U.S. Interior Dept.'s Nov. 10 land-use proposal may restrict responsible off-highway riding in 18 backcountry areas in nine states, says AMA
November 10, 2011
– Access to certain public land in nine states could be lost to motorcyclists, bicyclists and others under a massive land-use designation proposal submitted to Congress on Nov. 10, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
The proposal, submitted by the U.S. Interior Department, has been identified as the "Preliminary Report on BLM Lands Deserving Protection as National Conservation Areas, Wilderness or Other Conservation Designation." The report identifies 18 backcountry areas in nine states that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar highlighted today as deserving protection by Congress as national conservation areas or wilderness areas. Those states are California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, said AMA staff members are still analyzing the proposal, "but initial indications are that the report identifies more areas that should be designated as Wilderness or National Conservation Areas than areas that promote responsible motorized recreation.
"The AMA and many other groups have battled Wilderness proposals in the past that didn't meet the strict criteria for earning a Wilderness designation under federal law, and the U.S. Interior Department's new plan may include a lot of acreage that simply isn't appropriate for Wilderness designation," Allard said.
A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are prohibited.
The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964. But over the years, groups opposed to responsible off-highway vehicle recreation have been abusing the Wilderness designation process to ban motorcyclists, all-terrain vehicle riders and bicyclists from public land, as well as to block access for the elderly, handicapped and children who rely on motorized transportation to enjoy public land.
Salazar indicated that he hopes this report is incorporated into an omnibus public lands bill similar to another public lands bill that passed Congress in 2009. The bill referenced by Salazar was the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. It was passed using rare parliamentary tactics that ultimately closed 2.1 million acres of public land.
"The actions taken by the administration, and the current Congress, could have a profound impact on the ability of responsible off-highway riders to enjoy their favorite outdoor view," Allard added. "It's important that all responsible riders stay informed about the Interior Department's proposal and Wilderness bills in Congress and take action, when necessary, to help protect their right to ride."
The AMA and the All-Terrain Vehicle Association will continue to inform members of the latest news as this issue unfolds, and updates can be found at AmericanMotorcyclist.com.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world's largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists' interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its support of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com.